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10-11-2011, 07:20 PM   #1
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Accurate K-5 AF assessment?

In a post at dpreview, Tom Brown wrote:

"In low light, it will obtain focus lock but it will be off. If you need to shoot f2 at night to a single tungsten bulb, you'll be disappointed. Well... unless you always shoot in those conditions, in which case you can easily correct for it since the error is consistent."

In anything but extreme low light, the focus is excellent. I don't believe I've ever heard anyone say any different. The only complaints are extreme low tungsten lighting."

In your experience, is this an accurate assessment of the K-5's AF?

Jeff

10-11-2011, 07:38 PM   #2
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The AF is pretty good- I don't have any complaints except one: for action photography or sports, it would be nice to have more AF points and faster AF speed, though. In low-light, (without the assist lamp) the AF is still lacking (hunts more) compared to that of Canikon, but it's definitely better than it was in older bodies.

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10-11-2011, 08:20 PM   #3
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There have been low tungsten light focus issues when the K-5 just came out. Mine either does not seem to suffer from it or my low light situations are not 'low light' enough.
There was a firmware upgrade as well to address the issue; I'm still on the original firmware (if it ain't broke, don't fix it).

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10-11-2011, 08:41 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
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For what purpose?: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

10-12-2011, 08:59 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The AF is pretty good- I don't have any complaints except one: for action photography or sports, it would be nice to have more AF points and faster AF speed, though. In low-light, (without the assist lamp) the AF is still lacking (hunts more) compared to that of Canikon, but it's definitely better than it was in older bodies.
Thanks for your response. I'd be coming from a Nikon D90, which is just about good enough for the small amount of action photography that I do, and its AF also does pretty well in low light. If the K-5's AF is as good or better, it would probably meet my needs, although the faster and the more accurate, the better. I do sometimes photograph puppies for a couple of animal rescue operations, and quicker AF would help a lot with that.

My plan is to commit to a single interchangeable lens system and to sell my DSLRs and lenses from other systems. I am leaning towards Pentax or Nikon. In either case, I'd be buying a K-5 or upgrading to a D7000 for their better sensors. I also have an Olympus DSLR, but Olympus seems to have abandoned FT, and their sensors have not kept up. (If the only consideration was lenses, I'd pick FT.)

Between the D7000 and the K-5, AF data is ambiguous. Clearly, the D7000 has a more sophisticated AF system, but is it "better"? There have been many reports of inaccurate D7000 AF, and Chasseur d'Images downgraded the camera partly for that reason. There was also the recent test in a German magazine reported here that found the K-5's AF to be the most accurate among DSLRs. The French store FNAC's test of AF-C showed the K-5 to be about as good as the D7000. OTOH, Pop Photo reported a drop in the K-5's AF speed at lower light levels, and the K-5's tungsten low-light problem does not seem to have been solved.

Other than AF, my biggest concern about committing to Pentax is uncertainty about the direction that Ricoh will take. They paid a fire-sale price for the Pentax camera division, which is not a good sign. Only time will tell if they are committed to future DSLR development.

Jeff

Last edited by Jeff Charles; 10-12-2011 at 09:07 AM.
10-13-2011, 03:33 PM   #6
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FW1.03 corrected most Low light F faults. It didn't correct my K-5 so I had it replaced. I get pretty reasonable AF in low light now, but it's still not 100% accurate and could eb a lot better. AF is definitely one area where Pentax need to improve
10-13-2011, 03:48 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote
Between the D7000 and the K-5, AF data is ambiguous. Clearly, the D7000 has a more sophisticated AF system, but is it "better"? There have been many reports of inaccurate D7000 AF, and Chasseur d'Images downgraded the camera partly for that reason. There was also the recent test in a German magazine reported here that found the K-5's AF to be the most accurate among DSLRs. The French store FNAC's test of AF-C showed the K-5 to be about as good as the D7000. OTOH, Pop Photo reported a drop in the K-5's AF speed at lower light levels, and the K-5's tungsten low-light problem does not seem to have been solved.
As far as I know, the AF-C on the K-5 still doesn't have tracking capabilities like the D7000 does. So if that is really important to you, I would be considering the D7000. Concerning the AF reliability, I have had a few cases in which the AF was off, but only in VERY low light (e.g. long passed the threshold of activating the focus assist light). Generally I find the AF very reliable and better than that of the K-7 and K100D Super, although my experience has also grown over the time I have had these cameras (the K100DS was my first DSLR).

QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote
Other than AF, my biggest concern about committing to Pentax is uncertainty about the direction that Ricoh will take. They paid a fire-sale price for the Pentax camera division, which is not a good sign. Only time will tell if they are committed to future DSLR development.
Well, that may be. But then no-one knows for sure what will happen. For me, that's the reason I don't worry about it; it's out of my control anyway. I'm comfortable focusing on the here and now.

Last edited by starbase218; 10-13-2011 at 03:54 PM.
10-13-2011, 04:36 PM   #8
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Don`t know about the 7K but K5 in low light is very good and impressive in AFC. mode shooting sports.
I have been pleasantly surprised in both situations.

10-13-2011, 04:38 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote
Other than AF, my biggest concern about committing to Pentax is uncertainty about the direction that Ricoh will take. They paid a fire-sale price for the Pentax camera division, which is not a good sign. Only time will tell if they are committed to future DSLR development.
They definitely are- much more than hoya was.

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10-13-2011, 04:55 PM   #10
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Adam in the know, fill us in on the crystal ball. What is coming down the pike. FF or a new long zoom?.

Last edited by Ex Finn.; 10-13-2011 at 05:20 PM.
10-13-2011, 06:16 PM   #11
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I really hope the new owners get the AF fixed. When and if they do. I am going to get serious about Pentax again. I have found wildlife photography to be a lot of fun for me. The K-5 is so good in good light it is great. But has left me pulling my hair out in poor light. I have never even tried tungsten light. Only low light daylight photography.
10-13-2011, 09:38 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by garyk Quote
I really hope the new owners get the AF fixed. When and if they do. I am going to get serious about Pentax again. I have found wildlife photography to be a lot of fun for me. The K-5 is so good in good light it is great. But has left me pulling my hair out in poor light. I have never even tried tungsten light. Only low light daylight photography.
Ex Finn. wrote: "Don`t know about the 7K but K5 in low light is very good and impressive in AFC. mode shooting sports.
I have been pleasantly surprised in both situations."

Some people say that the K-5 is fine in low light. Others say it's not.
10-14-2011, 02:32 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote

Other than AF, my biggest concern about committing to Pentax is uncertainty about the direction that Ricoh will take. They paid a fire-sale price for the Pentax camera division, which is not a good sign. Only time will tell if they are committed to future DSLR development.

Jeff
I'm not worried in the slightest. Pentax have been going for many decades. They may not be as mainstream as Canikon but they are solid and perennial.

There's plenty of equipment that is both no longer manufactured and it's brand is no longer in existence that is commanding very healthy 2nd hand prices.

Stop worrying and enjoy snapping - The corporate world is a different zone to creative photography and mixing the two is only going to handicap your fun
10-14-2011, 02:58 AM   #14
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With my own copy of the K-5, extreme low light AF focusing accuracy remains disappointing despite all the firmware updates. Night landscapes with bright lights at the horizon seem to confuse the AF module and cause consistent gross front focusing with all my lenses. I'm talking focus lock at 1.5-2m for a very distant subject. Nothing I have tried seems to correct for this in AF. Fortunate for me, these situations I can very often rely on my own manual focusing ability, but it can be a challenge for those lenses with very long focus throws, like telephoto zooms. That's where I'd love an accurate low light AF mechanism. Anyway, it's true - I think this is the K-5's Achilles' heel, which I do hope will be rectified.
10-14-2011, 03:39 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
With my own copy of the K-5, extreme low light AF focusing accuracy remains disappointing despite all the firmware updates. Night landscapes with bright lights at the horizon seem to confuse the AF module and cause consistent gross front focusing with all my lenses. I'm talking focus lock at 1.5-2m for a very distant subject. Nothing I have tried seems to correct for this in AF. Fortunate for me, these situations I can very often rely on my own manual focusing ability, but it can be a challenge for those lenses with very long focus throws, like telephoto zooms. That's where I'd love an accurate low light AF mechanism. Anyway, it's true - I think this is the K-5's Achilles' heel, which I do hope will be rectified.
This is not unique to the K-5. I took this photo with the K-7: http://i56.tinypic.com/k3nn5s.jpg. Focus lock was confirmed but clearly is not correct.

However, this kind of thing happens to me only VERY rarely. And anyway I think it has more to do with the AF sensor not being pointed to a good focus (contrasty) target, so that it has not enough information to lock focus. It then says it does, but doesn't.

Anyway, Falk Lumo investigated the AF problem a while ago and concluded that, while the K-5 may sometimes incorrectly confirm focus lock, this only happened in circumstances where he would expect the camera to not be able to lock focus at all.

Last edited by starbase218; 10-14-2011 at 03:43 AM. Reason: link to image
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